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Unemployment insurance now available for self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers

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Posted at 8:52 AM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 13:08:58-04

GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Labor & Industry on Wednesday announced that Montana's self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits can begin filing claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits expanded under the recently passed federal CARES Act.

People who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now able to file online at mtpua.mt.gov. DLI had previously directed those that are self-employed to start a claim at MontanaWorks.gov. Those individuals will receive correspondence directing them to the new PUA web system. With this new application, Montanans are now able to simply fill out their claim, request paymen,t and follow their claim status in one place.

DLI expects to start issuing payments under this program to approved claimants within the next 10 days. Eligible claimants may receive payments backdated to the week of March 15, consistent with the onset of local and state social distancing directives, school closures and Governor Bullock’s “Stay at Home” directive.

In conjunction with this web portal roll-out, a new phone line is available for individuals without internet access to file their PUA claim, or for those with claim-specific questions at (406) 444-3382. A new email address is also available to those with questions at PUAclaims@mt.gov. A resource guide with answers to frequently asked questions, details on the new filing process and other resources is available at dli.mt.gov/self-employed-contractors.

Programs included in the CARES Act legislation:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – Provides an additional $600 per week to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs. This benefit is retroactive for those who had a claim beginning the UI filing week of March 29 through April 4, 2020.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - Allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) - Provides unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them, including the self-employed.

Under the CARES Act legislation, those eligible for PUA benefits, are also eligible for the additional $600 per week stimulus payment. The payment is added to the recipient’s state weekly benefit amount. The payments will be made for eligible weeks beginning the UI week ending April 4 through July 25, 2020.

DLI must finish system changes before it can implement the additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits under the PEUC program.

DLI encourages anyone who believes they may be eligible for UI to file a claim online at MontanaWorks.gov, or at mtpua.mt.gov for those that fall under the PUA eligibility guidelines.

In addition to the expansion of UI benefits under the CARES Act, Governor Steve Bullock recently issued a directive to minimize the time Montanans await UI benefits, and waived the requirement that claimants search for a job during this time.

DLI is providing daily updates for employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19 on its website.